Solar Photovoltaics in Pacific Island Nations: An Analysis of Rural Household Electrification Strategies in the RMI and Vanuatu
Rural electrification of Pacific Island Countries (PICs) through renewable energy is necessary for poverty alleviation, energy security, improved health, and to mitigate the effects of climate change, with solar PV being the preferred technological solution. However, electrification projects in PICs have had a high rate of failure, which has led to the adoption of various electrification strategies. This research has analysed the essential criteria for creating effective and enduring electrification models for rural household-scale electrification in PICs. A case study on self-initiated solar PV home systems (SHSs) demonstrated rural end-users‘ ability and desire to maintain SHSs of their own accord, while at the same time liberating their community of reliance on kerosene. The results suggested that market solutions that pay sufficient attention to social dimensions of project design and implementation are more likely to be successful in meeting end-users needs and providing enduring results. Such approaches have fewer organizational layers, allow for end-user participation and education, and encourage self-initiative. The need for such social solutions is well documented in the development literature, yet many of the electrification programs in PICs did not allocate sufficient funds to understanding and incorporating these social aspects. This research concludes that a proper balance in the overarching program design between the technical and social focus of projects is required, as each are equally important for project effectiveness and durability.